|Date of Birth||April 8, 1899|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Justus William Pickett (father), 550 - 15th St., Brandon, Manitoba.|
|Trade / Calling||Student|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Brandon, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||550 - 15th St., Brandon, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||March 30, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||17|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 1, 1918|
|Age at Death||19|
|Buried At||Raillencourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France|
|Plot||II. C. I.|
During most of the First World War British regulations required soldiers to be 19 years old before serving in a front line unit. Private Lewis Sherwood Pickett enlisted just before his 17th birthday and he served in Canada and England for over two years. After he turned 19 he was sent to France by his own request and he was killed in action six weeks later.
Lewis was the only son of Justus William Pickett and Jessie Maria Sancton McLeod of Brandon, Manitoba. Justus was originally from Nova Scotia and Jessie was born and raised in Greenwich, New Brunswick. At the time of the 1891 census Jessie was staying with her brother William McLeod in Rat Portage, Ontario and Justus was lodging with the McLeod family. Jessie married Justus and they had two children, both born in Rat Portage (later called Kenora): Jean Marion on 10 October 1895 and Lewis Sherwood on 8 April 1899. Justus was a grocer and he owned two houses on an acre of land on Fourth Street North. Around 1906 he and his family moved to Brandon, Manitoba where they lived for the next twenty years. Justus worked as an accountant and he became manager and agent for the Canada Sugar Refining Company.
The war started in August 1914 and Lewis enlisted on 30 March 1916, a week before his 17th birthday. He signed up in Brandon with the 196th (Western Universities) Battalion. He was a student at Brandon Collegiate at the time and he’d already served in the militia with the 12th Manitoba Dragoons. He was assigned to Company ‘B’ of the 196th and in June he was sent to train at Camp Hughes, which was just east of Brandon. Five months later his battalion left for England, embarking from Halifax on 1 November on the SS Southland and arriving in Liverpool on 11 November.
Lewis spent the next year, from November 1916 to October 1917, with the 19th Reserve Battalion and the Saskatchewan Regiment Depot at Seaford and Bramshott. In August 1917 he was promoted to Lance Corporal and at the end of October he was transferred to the Young Soldiers’ Battalion in Bramshott, where the recruits were given a graduated program of training as well as education by a schoolmaster. Lewis served with them for ten months and during that time he saw Lieutenant Ivan Maharg, a friend of his from Brandon. Ivan kept a diary (see Collection) and he mentioned seeing Lewis three times at Bramshott Camp in the spring of 1918, in March, April and May. In April he said Lewis was on his way to Wales for a one-week leave. On 28 June 1918 Lewis was transferred from the Young Soldiers’ Battalion to the 15th Reserve Battalion. By that time he was 19 years old and in August he requested to be sent overseas and to revert to being a Private. He arrived at the Base Depot in France on 20 August where he was taken on strength with the 5th Battalion but a week later he was transferred to a new unit, the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish). He joined them in the field a short time later, probably in a draft of 60 reinforcements they received in early September.
The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started in August 1918 and ended three months later with the Armistice. At the end of September the Canadians were involved in heavy fighting and they captured the town of Sancourt on 29 September. On 1 October orders for the 16th Battalion were to pass through Sancourt and Blécourt and take the village of Cuvillers and the high ground to the northeast of it. It would be the last major engagement for the battalion. The assault began at 5 am on 1 October and the 16th suffered heavy casualties when they reached the village and faced a severe German counter-attack. From the War Diary of the 16th Battalion, casualties in the operation of 1-2 October were 24 men killed, 208 wounded and 103 missing. Lewis was one of the men killed in action the first day.
From the Circumstances of Death record for Lewis: ‘Previously report Missing now Killed in Action. He was last seen shortly after leaving the ‘jumping off trench’ during an attack on enemy positions at Cuvillers. No information as to the actual circumstances under which he met his death is available.’
Lewis’s body was recovered and he is buried in Raillencourt Communal Cemetery Extension in the village of Raillencourt, 5 km southwest of Cuvillers. The extension to the cemetery was added by the Canadian Corps in September 1918, after the capture of the village. It contains 199 First World War burials of which 174 are Canadians. Lewis’s friend Ivan Maharg was killed two days before him and he is also buried there.
Lewis is commemorated on the Kenora Cenotaph, the Kenora Legion War Memorial and the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral War Memorial plaque.
His mother passed away in June 1920 in Fredericton, New Brunswick and she’s buried in Oak Point Anglican Cemetery, Greenwich Parish, King’s County, New Brunswick. His father died in Brandon in July 1927. His sister Jean became a school teacher and she married Alexander Wyllie in Brandon in 1921. They moved to Surrey, England and Jean died there in 1973.
By Becky Johnson
Grave marker photo courtesy of D. Snyder on findagrave.com.